Monday, 6 May 2013

All Saints, Newtowncunningham

The Parish of All Saints, Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal, lies along the east shore of Lough Swilly, south of Inch Island. Newtowncunningham is half way between Letterkenny and Derry. At the time of the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century, the area was planted by the Cunningham family, hence the name of the villages of Manorcunningham and Newtowncunningham.

All Saints Church was built in 1722 as a private chapel for the Forward Family of Castleforward, and was consecrated on All Saints' Day, 1st November that year. On the 9th December 1728, it became a chapel of ease in the Parish of Taughboyne. At the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, 1870, All Saints district was separated from the Parish of Taughboyne, and it became a parish in its own right.

All Saints Church possesses one of the two lych gates in the Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe, the other being at Baronscourt Church, County Tyrone. It was erected in 1920 to commemorate the Rev. Alexander George Stuart and his wife, Christine Emma of Bogay House, Newtowncunningham. Sadly in recent times the gate has been subjected to an attack by ghastly individuals.

Bogay House was given to the Rev. Thomas Pemberton, Rector of Taughboyne for use as a rectory about 1800. Mrs Stuart was a sister of the Very Rev. Edward Bowen, Rector of All Saints, 1868-1886, and Dean of Raphoe, 1882 until his death in 1897.

There is a three storey tower at the west end of the church which is surmounted by corner finials. It was built in 1808. A stone in the interior west wall records the presentation of the clock in the tower by the Rev. Robert Blackmore Rankin, Rector of All Saints, 1885-1917. Also in the porch are two crosses which came from the grave of Lt. Col. A.G.Stuart who was killed at Westroute in Flanders in 1916 during the Great War.

The nave is lit by four windows in the south wall and three in the north wall. Each has two lights with clear lattice panes and Y tracery. There are five windows with coloured patterned glass in the sanctuary. The central window has two lights and cusped tracery.

The baptistery is in the south-west corner of the nave. It was erected in 1992 in memory of a nine-year old Audrey Christine West who was killed in a car accident in 1991. The vestry room is to the left of the nave.
The stone pulpit has marble columns, and inscribed upon it are the names of the four Evangelists. It is on the left side of the nave, outside the chancel. The wooden eagle lectern commemorates Dean Bowen. There is a two manual electronic organ with pedals.

The chancel was built in 1896. The two marble steps into it were erected in 1905 in memory of Isabella Kerr. The reredos commemorates those that fell in the Great War. The names of the former are inscribed on the left side of the altar, and those of the latter, on the right. The prayer desk in the sanctuary was given in thanksgiving for the survival of a serious illness in infancy of Stephen Devenny in 1991.

The three classical monuments on the north wall commemorate the Forward Family. The Rt. Hon. Ralph Howard of Shelton House, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, 1st Viscount Wicklow, M.P for the County of Wicklow, married Alicia, daughter of William Forward of Castleforward in 1755. William Forward, who built the church, is commemorated on a monument over the vestry door. He died in 1770. Alicia is commemorated in the middle monument  William, son of Ralph and Alicia Howard became the third Earl of Wicklow, and in 1780 he assumed the surname and arms of the Forward family. The other monument on the north wall commemorates his wife Eleanor, who died in 1807.

On the south wall is a memorial in the baptistery to Audrey West, John Gordon Bowen, brother of Dean Bowen, brother of Dean Bowen who died in 1891, and his wife Harriet who died in 1885 are commemorated on a brass plaque.

There is a memorial to Dean Bowen, and above it, his Father, the Rev. Edward Bowen, Rector of Taughboyne, 1819-1867, is commemorated. Another memorial commemorates the Rev. A.G.Stuart and his wife Christine and the family. Their son Lt. Col. Alexander Stuart who was killed in Flanders in 1916 is commemorated. There is also a memorial to the Rev. R. B. Rankin. William Forwards gravestone is set into the south wall.

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